You Missed a Spot!

When you think you already plotted your story … but when you’re thiiiiiis close to the end, you find out you left out an important bridge. And by you, I mean me. It happens to the best of us plotters, no matter how intricately we think we’ve woven our web.

So when the web is 98% constructed, what do I do when I discover the missing 2% of the pattern?

I sulk.

No, really. First, I allow myself to be justifiably cranky at my past self who assured me that the job was done and everything would be fine and all I had to do was follow the map. What a slacker! Past Me is fired!

Unfortunately, that still leaves the job for Present Me. I plot best with pen and paper (this could be a liability if I ever plan a murder). So I get out my notebook and pen and scribble down all the end conditions that I need the bridge to connect to. Then I work backwards. What is the smallest step that has to occur to get to that end point? Okay, got it. Rinse and repeat.

Sometimes, I discover that the bridge just won’t be structurally sound if I try to connect it to one of those end conditions. That sucks, because it means that I have to change the already plotted ending. It extra sucks if I’ve already written part of the doomed scene. But eventually, the gossamer bridge that I’m plotting becomes solid and real. Then I breathe a sigh of relief and get back to putting in the words until I get to The End.

What I’ve been up to lately, writing-wise:

The kids are out of school, I went to the (excellent as always) 4th Street Fantasy Convention, we had a week in Kansas City, 4th of July and CONvergence are coming up, and–what’s that you say? That isn’t writing? Very observant of you.

Things Shiny or Useful

Archive of all shiny or useful links:

Defy Parkinson’s Law to Be More Productive:

7 Tips for Choosing a Title You Love:

Featured Market

Successfully launched Monstrous Magazine wants horror flash fiction, pays $.06/word.

We’re launching a print magazine! Monstrous will contain comics, prose fiction, and articles.



Horror Flash Fiction for the first issue, to be published later this year. There’s no theme, but we do like monsters, pulp, and classic horror films. Focus should be on fast-paced entertaining stories. We’ll take a limited amount of fantasy, but make it dark and action packed. No science fiction or detective fiction. No reprints.

Monstrous Magazine

Basics: horror, 1,000 – 2,000 words, pays $.06/wd, no reprints, first submission period closes 7/27/23. Guidelines:

Market List Updates

To see all the details about these new listings and what they’re looking for, go to For hundreds of other listings, go to Aswiebe’s Market List and download the latest version of the spreadsheet, or view it online at Best read on a bigger screen!

Screenshot of market lists update. Click to go to New Updates page.

Click to see the hot new updates!

Keep writing, keep submitting, and good luck!

Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Keeper of Lists
Aswiebe’s Market List
Abra Staffin-Wiebe’s Author Website

The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 7/15/2023.If you don’t want to miss an update, subscribe to the Aswiebe’s Market List newsletter:

Remembering Promises to Your Reader

The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 06/15/2023.If you don’t want to miss an update, subscribe to the Aswiebe’s Market List newsletter:

Website Update!

A reminder that my full market list is now, finally, fully searchable online! Of course, you can still download the complete spreadsheet and keep your own copy on your own computer.

And I’ve added a new page that is all the very latest updates (the same markets as in the table below, now with even more details!), searchable and sortable in the same way as the full market listings page. Both of these pages are, of course, best viewed on a wide screen.

Remembering Promises to Your Reader

Every story makes promises to its readers, even if the author doesn’t realize that they’re doing so. The trick is recognizing which promises you’ve made, and making sure that the ending pays those promises off in a way that either the reader expects … or will be delighted to have not seen coming. Handle that last one with care.

Critiquers can help. As I go, I ask my critiquers to write down questions they have (so that I can make sure they’re answered), the details they think are significant (so I can check if I want them to be), and things they expect to be resolved by the end.

I also train myself to notice the promises that I’m making. Is there a countdown to something? Is there unresolved tension (romantic or otherwise) between characters? Is there a big event coming up? Have I been foreshadowing anything? Did I set a gun on the mantelpiece and forget about it? Either that gun has to be removed from the mantelpiece, or it has to go off. That metaphorical gun can be a character, a conflict, a looming failure, or a striving for success.

I can’t keep track of all that stuff in my head. The promises that I make intentionally as I write, I also note down in my plot notes for the ending. (I’m approaching the ending of my novel now, which is why I’m thinking about this.) On my current project, I’ve been getting critique notes as I go, which is not something I always do and definitely not something I recommend for everyone! But it has helped me get a feeling for what promises my readers are picking up on, and that has shifted some of the details of the satisfying ending that I hope to provide.

During revisions, I keep a separate page just for notes of what I am promising and foreshadowing, and I check them off when I pay them off. I only write down the promise or foreshadowing when I actually see it on the page. Sometimes I need to work it in earlier to give it more impact. Sometimes the payoff isn’t good enough to be worth the promise, and I decide to take out the set-up entirely. It depends. Ah, the magic of revisions!

If all goes well, readers end up feeling satisfied with the ending, even if they don’t see all the moving parts that set up that emotional response.

What I’ve been up to lately, writing-wise:

I am at 120K on my “if T. Kingfisher wrote The Expanse” novel, about a derelict alien space station and the scrappy salvagers existing at its mercy. (Yes, I still need a better elevator pitch and comps!) If all goes according to plan, I should be able to finish the first draft of this book before the next edition of Aswiebe’s Market List. And then laugh. A lot. About how I was once worried that it would be “too short.”

Things Shiny or Useful

Archive of all shiny or useful links:

6 Ways to Write Characters You Love to Hate:

8 Promises You’re Making to Readers—and Then Breaking:

Six Lessons from my Writing Crush:

How to Brainstorm Original Ideas for Christmas Horror Stories:

Featured Market

Qualia Nous, Vol. 2 wants dark science fiction and all blended sub-genres of science fiction (horror, fantasy, etc.), pays $.10/word (capped).

The first volume of Qualia Nous (2014), edited by Michael Bailey, won the Benjamin Franklin Award for science fiction and was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Anthology. It was a Foreword ReviewsBook of the Year finalist in horror, science fiction, and a bronze winner for anthologies, as well as a silver medal finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Awards, a finalist for the Indie Book Awards, and a winner of the International Book Award. It was also the first Written Backwards anthology (of eventually many) to contain work by Stephen King.

… While not many like the term “literary,” that is what this anthology is looking for: groundbreaking work that break normal conventions and will stand the test of time, propelling emerging and undiscovered writers into the mainstream.

Written Backwards

Basics: speculative fiction and poetry, 3,000 – 10,000 words (fiction), pays $.10/wd, no reprints, due 7/31/23.


Market List Updates

Go read the very latest updates. They are searchable and sortable. Best viewed on a wide screen.
Click to see all the latest updates!

Keep writing, keep submitting, and good luck!

Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Keeper of Lists
Aswiebe’s Market List
Abra Staffin-Wiebe’s Author Website


The Secret to Great Plotting

The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 04/15/2023.If you don’t want to miss an update, subscribe to the Aswiebe’s Market List newsletter:

Writers describe their planning process (or lack thereof) in all kinds of ways. Plotters! Pantsers! Plantsers! Architects! Gardeners! Drum Plotters!

Wait, no, that last one is a piece of graphics equipment.

I am not going to discuss all the different approaches, but this one secret is for all the kinds of writers who plot. Ready for it? Here goes.

You. Can. Change. Your. Mind.

Changing your mind can even be part of your process! It doesn’t mean your process is broken. Maybe you need something to write towards, but when you get there, you need to stop and think for a few days.

Imagine you’re following a treasure map to a walled city. When you finally reach it and climb that wall, you see that there’s a lot of city inside and you’re not exactly sure where the treasure is. And you also see a couple of pyramids in the distance, which look like they might have some treasures you never even guessed existed. Maybe while you were following the treasure map, you picked up some traveling companions. Now you need to consider their goals and skills too. Your treasure map didn’t fail; you’ve advanced to the next stage.

I call this the Replot Point, and I hit it about 3/4ths of the way through every writing project of sufficient length and density. Then it’s time for me to stop and think and scribble connections in my writing notebook. My subconscious has been leaving me breadcrumbs and making promises to my readers all the way along. It’s my job to follow those breadcrumbs and fulfill those promises, while getting from where I am to where I want to be. I plot from both ends to the middle. I make lists of all kinds of possible connections and outcomes. I think really hard about all of my characters’ goals and drives. I think about the emotional effect I want to produce in the reader.

And then I make a really detailed plot for the last quarter of the story. Did I change my mind about my initial plot for this part of the story? Maybe. Did I go from a big picture map to a city street map? Absolutely. Is there treasure at the end?

Well, that’s for the readers to decide.

What I’ve been up to lately, writing-wise:

I have created a detailed plot for the last 1/4 of my Altered Carbon meets The Expanse, as written by T Kingfisher* space opera/SF horror work-in-progress, and I am chugging along on it happily.

* Obvs, my pitch still needs a hell of a lot of work. But that’s a job for Future Abra.

Things Shiny or Useful

Archive of all shiny or useful links:

Estate Planning Tips for Authors (video):

SFWA Members Weigh in on AI & Machine Learning Applications & Considerations:

Upcoming Virtual Conventions/Workshops

(Any registration fees are noted.)

Flights of Foundry (highly recommended! – ASW), April 14-16, 2023:

The Nebula Conference, May 12-14, 2023 ($150). Purchasing a membership also gets access to recorded panels and year-round special events:

The Orange County Library System has many upcoming, free virtual writing talks:

Featured Market

Deathcap & Hemlock wants dark speculative flash fiction written in recipe format, pays $10.

What are we looking for?: Recipes that hint at a deeper narrative without violating the recipe structure will catch our eye. We are looking for short pieces, formatted like actual recipes (ingredients list, steps, measurements (metric, imperial; weight or volume—you decide!)). A short introductory paragraph to the recipe is okay, but optional.

Themes that are likely to mean you have a lot of competition in the slush include: revenge poisonings, transformation magic (eat something and it turns you into x), unwitting cannibalism.

We are not looking for stories about food or prose descriptions of how to make something. We are also not looking for anything that threatens actual people or real recipes for a poison that could be followed by readers. This is not a how-to site: we want speculative elements, we want recipes that ignite imagination (not felonies). Think outside the box of cereal killers.

Deathcap & Hemlock

Basics: dark speculative flash fiction, up to 1,000 words, pays $10, no reprints, due 3/31/23. Guidelines:

Market List Updates

Click below to see all the details about these new listings and what they're looking for. For hundreds of other listings, go to Aswiebe's Market List and download the latest version of the spreadsheet. Note: going forward, limited demographic market listings will be italicized.
Click here to keep reading–Best viewed on a wide screen.